It’s made me consider rethinking my rather knee-jerk alt-poetry Ginsberg line, which goes something like this: AG works hard at it, busts out of bad formal verse & by dint of lots of trial & error & a great deal of labor writes two magnificent poems (“Howl” of course and “Kaddish”) & and handful of very good ones; then sometime in the 1960s he starts taking the “first thought best thought” business seriously & his work goes straight into the dumper, so that you can safely ignore everything he wrote after (arbitrarily) 1965 or so. (Which didn’t keep me from going to see him read at SUNY Cortland in 1988 or so, & enjoying it immensely.
My one conversation with Allen Ginsberg:
Me (from urinal on right): I’ve admired your work forever. I’m really looking forward to your reading.
AG (from urinal on left): Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy it.)
But hearing Ginsberg deliver “Father Death Blues,” & seeing that it really does stand up on the page as well – not as a dense, wildly iconoclastic piece of alt-poetry, but as a fully-achieved, modest, angular elegy – makes me want to go back & explore the post-“Kaddish” Ginsberg in the detail I haven’t allowed myself before.
(“Father Death Blues,” by the way, sounds really boss on the Irish bouzouki, where you can get a wonderful drony-thing going on the lower strings during the A chord.)
On a not entirely unrelated note: I’d been wondering what critter had been eating guitar picks around the house lately. I was sure I’d had at least a half-dozen lying around or threaded thru the strings of various stringed instruments, but when I picked up the acoustic to thrash thru the AG song, there was nary a plectrum to be found. Until I shook the guitar, & heard at least two of the little devils rattling around inside. Daphne, apparently, has decided that the proper storage facility for Daddy’s little bits of plastic is – admittedly rather logically – inside the stringed instruments he uses them to play. The final count: 2 inside the Washburn acoustic, 2 inside the bouzouki, 2 inside the gold-flake Sorrento, and 1 inside the ES-295 – at least one pick inside every instrument with a soundhole to receive it.